Friday, October 28, 2011

Dale Carnegie I am Not

Our minister called me last night and asked if I would speak at our November 20th evening service just before Thanksgiving.  It is usually a well attended service with approximately 200 people.  Now, I'm not a public speaker.  The only speaking I've ever done were the eulogies for my parents and a close friend.  I'm a shy person.......I write but I don't talk!  But what did I say.........why yes of course.  She asked that I talk about my journey of faith and the blessings I have received this past year.  So pardon me while I stress out for awhile.  I've just got to remember to picture everyone in their underwear.  Is that OK in church?

This is what I have written so far..................any feedback will be appreciated!

When Pam asked me if I would share my blessings from this past year with all of you tonight I was immediately reminded of something my mother told me a few weeks before she passed away at the age of 91.  One evening I was sitting with her in her hospital room when suddenly, out of nowhere, she said, “Every age has its blessings”.   “ Really? I asked, even now at 91 when your body is so sick and frail?”  And without a moment’s hesitation she replied, “Why yes, because I’m surrounded by people who love me and whom I love in return.”

You know, it’s easy to see the blessings that come with great fanfare such as our first love, marriage, or the birth of a child.   But we don’t always see the blessings that come from hardship or personal struggle?  This past year I have learned much about the blessings we never see coming. 

In Luke chapter 2, there's a story about a man named Simeon. God had promised him that he would not die until he had seen the coming Messiah. Jesus was born, and eight days later when Mary and Joseph took Him into the temple, Simeon was waiting there. He recognized immediately that this was the Christ-Child, the One for whom he had waited, and he rejoiced. He took the baby into his arms, and he praised God saying, "Lord, now you are letting Your servant depart in peace, according to Your word."

Simeon was waiting, looking expectantly, for that Child - for that blessing. I wonder how many times we have missed blessings because we were not looking with the right expectations; we were not waiting to see what God had in store for us; or perhaps we were not looking with eyes that were seeing things from God's perspective.
In 1956 I met my first love.  We were six years old and in the first grade.  He was the cute little boy with the shy smile sitting on the back row.  One day he gave me a Cracker-Jack ring and I gave him my heart.  Although we grew up together and graduated from high school we never spoke a word to each other the entire 12 years. 

After graduation we went on to different colleges and separate lives.  We each married and started families of our own.  Unfortunately, my marriage ended when I was 27 and despite my mother’s best efforts, which included telling me to look for a widower since according to her they tend to re-marry quickly.  Unsure as to whether I really wanted to hang out at cemeteries in order to race other divorcees back to the family car, I elected to remain single in spite of my mother’s encouragement. I didn’t find another Mr. Right but after 25 years I did find myself content if not a bit set in my ways. 

I had long since given up the idea of remarriage when the wonderful world of information technology brought me the email addresses of all my former classmates in preparation of our 35th high school reunion.  From that a correspondence began with my first love, the boy with the Cracker Jack ring.  After 22 years of marriage he too had experienced the devastation of divorce and with this experience in common we began a correspondence.  Thinking he was still living in another state I felt comfortable with our communication until one night when he divulged the fact that he was living right here in Norman.  Insecurity soon gave way to curiosity and we finally met in person and thus began a 10-year courtship.  Remember, I said I was set in my ways.  I truly believed that I was too old for love let alone marriage. 

But like all good plans that changed when my love was diagnosed with cancer.  After what we hoped would be a successful surgery we both realized that we could no longer protect our hearts from the possibility of hurt or loss.  We could however, spend the time we have now loving one another and enjoying our lives together.  We realized that the only way to experience love is by allowing ourselves to be vulnerable.  So this past May, only 4 weeks after his second surgery, we were married in my daughter’s backyard.  He exchanged a Cracker Jack Ring for a wedding ring and I became Mrs. Ronald Phillips.

So yes, my mother was right, every age DOES have its’ blessings!
Enjoy God’s blessings. Count them one by one.  Then pass them on wherever they are needed.


Olga said...

You have much to say so I am positive this will be a very touching talk.

Judy (kenju) said...

I definitely agree with Olga. Pam knew what she was doing when she asked you to talk, and I know you will be a great blessing to all who hear and read your words!